It is sometimes seen as a badge of honor to brag about how little sleep you get. I know each of you have either done this or know someone who says, “I can function on 5 hours of sleep easily” while they are crushing their fifth coffee of the day.
Common sense says a lack of sleep catches up with you. One or two days of little sleep are one thing, but a habitual pattern of sleeplessness is a highway to disaster.
Let’s see what the science says about it.
The National Sleep Foundation (they have a foundation for everything) published these findings in Sleep Health: The Journal of the National Sleep Foundation
As we get older we need less sleep but that is for normal people, what about high performing athletes?
It is generally recommended that hard training athletes add an hour to the sleep recommendations above. When you account for normal activities during the day and add recovery from training and competing, the extra hour assists your body in recovery and rejuvenation while acting as a performance enhancer.
Yes, you read that correctly.
In a 2011 study performed on Stanford University basketball players (not untrained adults) these conclusions were discovered:
Total objective nightly sleep time increased during sleep extension compared to baseline by 110.9 ± 79.7 min (P < 0.001). Subjects demonstrated a faster timed sprint following sleep extension (16.2 ± 0.61 sec at baseline vs. 15.5 ± 0.54 sec at end of sleep extension, P < 0.001). Shooting accuracy improved, with free throw percentage increasing by 9% and 3-point field goal percentage increasing by 9.2% (P < 0.001). Mean PVT reaction time and Epworth Sleepiness Scale scores decreased following sleep extension (P < 0.01). POMS scores improved with increased vigor and decreased fatigue subscales (P < 0.001). Subjects also reported improved overall ratings of physical and mental well-being during practices and games.
Survey says, get your full night of sleep.
A common problem which contributes to a lack of sleep with NBA players, young athletes, and any athlete in general is the social media effect. Chances are you found this blog from a social media channel, and there’s a high probability you are using SM late at night which disrupts your sleep.
This disruptive pattern of social media is also correlated to a decrease in performance among NBA players.
A new study to be published online in the journal Sleep Health reveals that late-night social media use by NBA players is linked to poorer next-day performance on the court. The study builds on preliminary research from 2017 about players who posted late-night tweets. Researchers examined game statistics for 112 verified Twitter-using players, with a total of 37,073 tweets between 2009 and 2016. A player’s shooting percentage was 1.7 percentage points lower following a night during which he tweeted during typical sleeping hours. Late-night tweeting was also associated with approximately 1.1 fewer points scored and 0.5 fewer rebounds in the next day’s game. Interestingly, these effects of late-night tweeting were greater during away games versus home games.
When you have highly trained athletes with a downward trend in performance from a lack of sleep, what will it do to you at work and home?
During a study conducted through the Kansas State Employee University Wellness Program the results said:
EWP participants (N=11,698 in 2008; 5,636 followed up in 2009) who had higher levels of sleep disturbance were more likely to be absent from work (all p < 0.0005), have lower work performance ratings (all p < 0.0005), and have higher healthcare costs (p < 0.0005). Longitudinally, more trouble sleeping was significantly related to negative changes in all outcomes.
A lack of sleep is detrimental to performance both in your physical activity and work performance. I didn’t get into the health effects of a lack of sleep which include: inducing insulin resistance, increase in visceral and abdominal fat deposits, hypertension, cardiac disease, diabetes, stroke (link), hormonal imbalances, and ebola… ok I made ebola up but with the ramifications of a lack of sleep being well documented, ebola would be a quicker and much less costly way to go.
This will require some hard decisions if you are set in your ways.
I will assume since you are reading this blog you have an active interest in being healthy, strong, and fit. You already have that drive in you, let’s add to the results with some tweaks to your nighttime habits.
Seven habits you can start to chip away. All of these are doable for every person reading this blog (finances notwithstanding for the mattress), and these seven items are a great places to start to maximize your sleep.
I can speak from anecdotal experience when I get 8-10 hours of sleep a night my mental state, gym performance, attitude, and outlook are all positives. I was that guy who bragged about functioning on four to five hours of sleep a night until I couldn’t. I looked at it as if it was a medal to wear on my chest.
I was wrong and I see this happening often.
Overworked parents, stressed out college and high school kids, athletes who travel for games, people working multiple jobs trying to pay their bills, and misinformed adults who believe they are the special ones who can continually function on less than 6 hours per night for extended times.
It catches up to you but you can start to implement changes to habits today. Start with one, nail it and add another.
You will look back on your sleepless life wondering what took you so long.
Sleep is the most underrated performance enhancer and recovery tool we have at our disposal. It costs nothing and the benefits are work gold.
Sleep when you’re dead? Let’s keep it from getting to that point.
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